UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says that the US decision to block a former Palestinian prime minister from leading the UN political mission in Libya was “a serious mistake”. Washington blocked the proposed appointment of Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007 to 2013, a week ago. It said it was acting to support its ally, Israel. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Guterres said: “I believe that it’s essential for everybody to understand that people serving the UN are serving in their personal capacities. They don’t represent a country or a government”. Guterres said that Fayyad “was the right person in the right place at the right time” Palestinians condemned the decision. US ambassador Nikki Haley announced she was blocking the appointment because “for too long, the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel”. Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi dismissed the “flimsy excuse” for a move she described as “unconscionable”. “Blocking the appointment of Dr Salam Fayyad is a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity”, she said. Fayyad had been tapped to replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been the Libya envoy since November 2015.
The Trump administration in Washington has objected to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ choice of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyed as the new UN special envoy to Libya on grounds that he is Palestinian. “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” complained Nikki Haley, the new US ambassador to the UN appointed by President Donald Trump. It is not clear if the objection will scupper Fayyad’s appointment. Fayyad would be Guterres’ personal representative but his appointment as Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) requires Security Council approval. The US could veto it. A spokesman for Guterres said today that choosing Fayyad was “solely based on Mr Fayyad’s recognised personal qualities and his competence for that position”.